Monday, 30th October 2017

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Demand for essential supplies

The letter was submitted with state government on Monday and released to media on Tuesday

By Rokibuz Zaman in Guwahati
  • Published 25.03.20, 1:37 AM
  • Updated 25.03.20, 1:37 AM
  • a min read
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The government must provide a weekly allowance to all workers in the unorganised sector whose source of earning has been disrupted due to restrictions (Shutterstock)

Over 100 people, under the banner of Uki Research Collective, have written to the Assam government that it must provide food and essential supplies to the poor and economically vulnerable sections of society, as the state government announced a lockdown to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Uki Research Collective is an intellectual forum that believes in political change through academic intervention, which basically comprises PhD students of various universities of the country.

Ankur Tamuli Phukan, the convener of the Forum, said, “One cannot deny that these restrictions on social gathering and movement of public, travel and business will bring economic life to a standstill, but the most affected in such a situation are always the toiling workers and peasants.”

The forum, in a letter to the state government, said the government must also fulfil its responsibilities towards the economically-vulnerable sections of society.

The forum said: “The production operations in tea estates across Assam must be ceased by government order. An emergency fund to support the daily and medical needs of tea garden workers must be jointly set up by the government and tea estate owners. The government must provide a weekly allowance to all workers in the unorganised sector whose source of earning has been disrupted due to restrictions.”

The letter was submitted with state government on Monday and released to media on Tuesday.

The forum also said disbursement under established schemes such as old-age pensions must be temporarily increased to support the most vulnerable sections of society, including the elderly, and it must direct banks and micro-finance institutions to defer repayment of loans till the end of the crisis.

The forum said workers and peasants are also the ones who suffer most when measures such as lockdown affect casual employment and create delays in the agrarian cycle.

“With an eye on how the disease has spread in various countries, one can expect the present restrictions to be scaled up in the days ahead. In this time of crisis, the government of Assam must rise to the occasion and abide by its duty to the people,” it said.